After hiding out in the forest for two weeks, this family from the Ivory Coast crossed the river that separates their troubled homeland from Liberia’s Nimba County, then
paused before resuming a journey they hope leads to safety. Ivory Coast has been
convulsed by months of post-election strife that has forced hundreds of thousands of
people to seek sanctuary elsewhere.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been supporting a
Ministry of Health hospital in Abidjan, which is plagued by violence and shortages of
medicines and other supplies, and in a number of areas throughout the country where
people displaced by fighting have settled temporarily. Many cannot reach the care they
need, however. “It is critical for patients to have access to health facilities,” said Mego
Terzian, MSF emergency coordinator. “MSF medical teams, who strictly adhere to the
principles of impartiality and neutrality, must be able to care for patients, regardless of
In Liberia, MSF teams are supporting health centers close to the border with Ivory
Coast and operating mobile clinics and a medical facility in the Bahn refugee camp. As
of early March, some 70,000 Ivorian refugees had been registered in Nimba County.
“People are afraid and do not speak of returning,” said Helga Ritter, MSF coordinator in
Liberia. “And they fear for those who have remained in Ivory Coast.” – Doctors Without Boarders, 2011